Jose Mourinho insists he will finally be prepared to label Chelsea as title challengers if they "work in a successful way" in this close-season transfer market.
After watching his team come from behind at Cardiff to bring down the curtain on their campaign with a 2-1 victory on Sunday, Mourinho denied being hurt by missing out on the Premier League title in his first campaign back in England, saying Manchester City were worthy champions.
Evolution and transition have been buzz words for the Portuguese this season and he claimed that the Blues' third-placed finish "is not a drama" despite Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, not being a man renowned for his patience.
However, there appeared a distinct shift in rhetoric from the former Real Madrid boss as far as Chelsea's title ambitions for 2014-15 are concerned if they attain their transfer targets, of whom Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is thought to be one.
"Next season if we do our work in a successful way in the summer market, which I know the club is trying to do everything to make that a successful period for us, then if we do that I want to start day one saying we are going to fight for the title," Mourinho said.
"We don't need a new spine, a new structure. It is there.
"The fundamental for us now is a couple of players of a certain level to help the team immediately go to a different level.
"After that the additional is if someone has to leave then someone has to come. Our work in the summer is not a big amount of work, it is just the right choice."
- Transitional team -
Mourinho already largely has the tools required.
It is forging the mentality required to win matches like those against Aston Villa and Sunderland -- he referred to these games six times in his press conference -- which is where he will be looking for his transitional team to step up next year after some damaging defeats to sides in the bottom half.
"Manchester City are champions and they deserve it," he said.
"They have four more points than us and two more than Liverpool. They are not guilty of defeats like ours to Aston Villa and Sunderland. It has nothing to do with them.
"Am I hurt (by City winning)? No, because it is part of the process.
"One thing is to play clearly to win the title. Another is to be in a transition phase.
"It was an easier job for me to get a team ready to win (not Chelsea) and I promise you I had chances to do that not just in this country but others.
"My decision was this and I am happy with that. It is part of a process in a dangerous league where you can finish fifth and be out of the Champions League.
"Third is not a drama, it is a position you have to accept in this transitional period.
"We are not asking for eight, nine, 10 years to achieve success but you can't just click your fingers and success arrives, this season it almost happened."
Substitute Andre Schurrle's introduction proved decisive as Chelsea came from behind to defeat relegated Cardiff with two goals in three second-half minutes.
The Germany international scored one and made the other for Fernando Torres shortly after coming on as Mourinho's team ended a trophyless season on a winning note.
Cardiff, in their final game before returning to the Championship, had led beyond the hour mark courtesy of Craig Bellamy's early deflected strike in what seems likely to be his final game as a professional.
Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: "I think everyone can see signs that there are players there that have got the quality.
"There will probably be a few changes, in my view it is important to keep hold of the most important players."